Travel Tips for a Great Day Out in Oxford
Green Arts Oxfordshire Network has pulled together some information that we hope will help you to reduce emissions and frustrations when visiting museums, theatres and arts venues in Oxford city centre, perhaps even make your journey part of the fun! Take a look at our at-a-glance guide at the bottom of this page, with more detailed information below. This information was correct as of June 2023, but will likely change as time passes, so we advise you to double check the details before embarking on your journey. Please let us know if you spot anything that should be updated.
Oxford can get very busy, so please allow plenty of time for your journey if you have a fixed start time.
The best way to enjoy Oxford’s beautiful architecture is to explore the city centre on foot. Most cultural attractions are within 15 minutes’ walk of each other and of the rail and bus stations.
Oxford City Council’s Go Active site provides useful links to walking routes, maps and apps.
Cycle and Scoot
Oxford has many cyclists and there is cycle parking at most venues and across the city.
CycleStreets has an interactive journey planner for confident and less confident cyclists in Oxford. The cycling pages of Oxford City Council’s website list cycle routes, cycle hire companies and the locations of free bicycle pumps and cycle racks. Cyclox, a local cycling advocacy group, provides information about safe and secure cycling. The city has many bicycle repair workshops, some of which offer cycle repair training. The city is hosting an e-scooter trial with Voi. Anyone over 18 with a valid driving licence can hire and return zero-emission e-scooters from several sites across the city. These cost £1 to unlock and 20p per minute for the ride.
Oxford’s award-winning bus companies offer a range of services and tickets.
Oxford Bus Company operates in the city and through its sister company Thames Travel, across the county. It currently offers Go-Anywhere day tickets (£6 per child, £9 per adult and £17 for a group), and £1 Get Around city fares for Under 18s.
Stagecoach is the UK’s biggest bus operator and offers SmartZone, dayrider and megarider tickets.
City Sightseeing Buses offer open-top bus tours around the city with commentaries in 14 languages. Passengers can hop on and off at 20 stops along the one-hour route to explore at their leisure.
Blue Badge holders can park free of charge:
- in disabled bays for an unlimited time. Bays are marked on this map.
- on single/double yellow lines (providing a loading/unloading ban is not in force) for up to three hours. Please ensure your clock is displayed.
- in time-restricted bays/permit bays for an unlimited time.
- in on-street Pay & Display bays for an unlimited time without payment.
- in residents’ parking bays for as long as you like.
The city’s main Bus Station at Gloucester Green, a 6-minute walk from the centre, hosts long-distance coach services. Direct coach services run to and from London Victoria 24 hours a day (taking from 1 hour 36 mins) as well as to Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted airports, Cambridge and other cities.
- Oxford Tube Adult tickets to London start from £12 with concessions including children and under 26s. It is cheaper to buy tickets online than onboard.
- National Express Adult tickets to London start from £16.50 with savings for buying tickets three or more days in advance, choosing flexible journey times or using Coachcards.
Private Coach or Minibus
Redbridge Park & Ride has designated coach and minibus parking. School groups and other passengers can be dropped and collected at one of Oxfordshire County Council’s on-street drop-off and pick-up points:
- St Aldate’s South (southbound) – just south of the Combined Court OX11TL
- Beaumont Street (westbound) – outside Oxford Playhouse OX1 2LW
- St Giles’ (northbound) – in the lay-by beside the Taylorian Library OX1 3NA
Oxford Station (12-minute walk, 0.6 mile to the centre) operates regular direct services to London Paddington (1 hour), Birmingham New Street (1 hour 20 mins), Reading and others, with less frequent direct services also available to Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton.
Oxford Parkway Station (21-minute bus ride, 3.7 miles to the centre) operates twice-hourly services to London Marylebone (55 minutes), High Wycombe, Bicester Village (10 mins) and other stations. The station is next to the Water Eaton Park & Ride where the 500 bus operates the same hours as the trains and takes 12 minutes to the city centre.
There are taxi ranks at Oxford Railway Station, Gloucester Green Bus Station and St Giles in the city centre. Taxi firms are listed on Oxford City Council’s website.
(001 Taxis operates an Uber-like service in partnership with Uber.)
Oxford is a small city with many traffic restrictions, particularly between 7.30am and 6.30pm, so visitors are encouraged not to drive into the centre.
Try using these route planners:
Oxford hosts car sharing clubs which offer hybrid and electric vehicles at locations across the city.
Park & Ride
We recommend using one of the Park & Rides on the outskirts of Oxford. These are clearly signposted as you enter the city. See the Park & Ride website for more information. You can find a pdf map of the Park & Rides here, or an online map here.
Regular buses run between the Park & Rides and city centre taking 25 minutes and operating until around 11pm. (For Water Eaton the City2 replaces the Park & Ride bus after 7pm.)
You will need to pay for parking and a bus ticket or buy a combined ticket.
The standard Park & Ride parking charge (as of June 2023) is £2 per vehicle (up to 11 hours) and £4 per vehicle (up to 24 hours). You can pay by cash or card at designated parking ticket machines. Or you can avoid lengthy queues by buying a ticket in advance using RingGo for Redbridge, Pear Tree, Thornhill and Oxford Parkway Park & Rides. We strongly advise this for Thornhill and Parkway.
Parking Charge Links:
You also need to buy a return bus ticket to and from Oxford city centre. You can pay by cash or contactless: ‘tap on’ at the start of your journey and ‘tap off’ at the end. A peak adult day return costs £3 for one adult or £5 for two adults travelling together. Under 16s travel free.
You can buy a combined parking and bus ticket at combined ticket machines at each Park & Ride. This costs £6.80 and covers two adults and three Under 16s.
Putting the joy back in the journey
Lower carbon forms of transport like walking, cycling, buses or trains can be less stressful and more fun than driving.
Joyful walking, cycling or scooting…
Choosing an active form of transport is a great way to sneak some healthy activities into your day. Walking, cycling or scooting is enjoyable as well as practical:
- Take a self-guided walking tour, using apps like Go-Jauntly, which has plenty of routes accompanied by imagery and info, often created by locals.
- Hunt down some treasure along the way! Hide or seek containers hidden right under your nose with the Geocaching app.
- Grow your confidence by getting cycling training with Broken Spoke Bike Coop, or attend one of Cyclox’s free informative events.
- Try out a recommended cycling route via Cycling UK, BikeMap, CycleStreets or Citymapper, which has an option to choose quieter cycling-friendly journeys.
- Organise a group walk or bike ride to your destination.
- Take a detour through some green space if there is any available along your route, to benefit from the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku: ‘forest bathing’.
Joyful bus and train journeys…
With your eyes free from the road, use your journey to reclaim some spare time:
- Read a book or a bit about what you’re going to visit.
- Listen to music or a podcast while enjoying the scenery out the window.
- Message a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
- Take the opportunity to connect with a stranger. You could try asking ‘I’m off to see [event] at [venue], have you been there before?’ as an ice-breaker. If yes, ‘what did you think about it?’, if not ‘what’s your favourite place to visit in Oxford?’ Be inspired by ‘Where Are You Going?’, a podcast full of surprising stories from perfect strangers.
- Play some games with the people you’re travelling with, like word association or bingo with passing bus numbers.
- Look up from the road to take in the local scenery and architecture.
The information on this page and infographic guide serves as indicative guidance and should be double checked before beginning your journey to ensure that the information remains correct.
Green Arts Charter Signatories are invited to add this infographic to their websites and bookings emails to make choosing lower carbon transport options easier and more attractive to visitors. You can sign the Charter here.
Infographic copyright is held by Green Arts Oxfordshire Network. This pdf is free to use, but do not add logos, images or alter in any way.
We gratefully acknowledge that the development of this infographic was supported by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). It was compiled by Kim Pickin with artwork by Jeremy Morgan of Fizog Design, with contributions from Becca Vallins and Ellie Monk and the help of Oxford Brookes University Placement Student Oelda Cekaj. The infographic was brainstormed by several cultural organisations, artists and transport experts at the ‘Culture Shift! A Vision for Greener Audience Travel’ Marmalade event in April 2023, produced by Green Arts Oxfordshire Network and the Old Fire Station at The Story Museum. GAON would like to thank everyone that contributed to the development of this infographic.